USA Today Focus On Downside of DTV Transition – Analyze This

Mainstream media is starting to pitch up the pace reporting about the DTV transition. USA Today is a recent example. Mike Snider, a reporter in the Tech section, has made both a Q&A and an article about the DTV transition. But he really gets a few things on the wrong foot. As readers of the web edition has made comments on. It will be common among reporters to not get facts and things right about the transition, it is complex but really not rocket science.

The focus of the article is on the downside of the transition. This is really the “safe side” reporting. It is easier to be critical then “fair and balanced”. However, this article is really confusing. It is unclear what downside Mr. Snider is referring to in the headline. Is it that DTV has been focused on HDTV? (It is really two different sides of the same coin). Is it that analog broadcast will be shut of? (They will, but it sounds like they will disappear – they won’t. Broadcast continues as usual but in digital only.) Is the downside that lawmakers are worried? (They are, but is that really bad? They should track this issue and the TV industry is really behind the schedule).

Mr. Snider writes: “An old TV should be connected to satellite, Cable or an add-on digital tuner”. Why not use the word converter box? Let’s help the audience by using the most common definition. And, there are more options. How bout using a TivoHD? It works great with an antenna. Also there are DVD recorders with built in DTV tuners. More is that there should be a greater selection of converter boxes on the shelves. In Europe there are more than 100 different models on the market in countries like the U.K, Germany and Sweden. Will the U.S get there?

It is great that USA Today writes about the transition. But I think that NAB, FCC, NTIA and other stakeholders should bring more basic knowledge to reporters to grab before they write. It’s really for the consumer’s best. Media will be the strongest force when it comes to bring awareness to consumers. It is really a steep learning curve for most reporters. But the DTV transition shouldn’t be presented as rocket science – it’s not.

NABs newsletter links to the article discussed above but headlines it a bit different: Plenty of work remains before DTV deadline

Interestingly enough Mr. Sniders Q&A is more to the point. Headlined “Is your television ready for the DTV transition?“. A more practical guide for consumers. NABs newsletter don’t link to this article though.

Nobody will miss analog TV. DTV broadcast bring much better picture quality, more channels, new services and possibilities to develop the TV as a medium.

One problem is that very few have experienced DTV, in the U.S, with an antenna and a converter box. It is easier to focus on the downsides only then, but there is really more to report about than the fuzz, confusion and low awareness. But I guess the uncertainty that lack of information brings, makes the day for the downsides of the transition.

Anders Bjers

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2 Responses to USA Today Focus On Downside of DTV Transition – Analyze This

  1. Consumer interest in free over the air digital- HD TV is definitely on the increase. The number of visitors to our web site http://www.dennysantennaservice.com has skyrocketed over the past year, mainly do to the introduction of free over the air digital – HDTV.
    Choosing the proper TV antenna for a particular location is the main issue for most. Many consumer’s have a tendency to purchase antennas that are to small to do the job, digital reception is an all or nothing proposition, you’re going to want a strong signal. Also, there is a misconception that all digital – HDTV broadcast signals are on the UHF band (14-69) Currently it’s true, many broadcaster’s are transmitting their digital signals on UHF, because much of the VHF band (2-13) is currently being used to broadcast analog TV signals. However, when the digital transition is complete on February 17th of 2009, the date set when broadcasters will turn off their analog signals, things will change. There are only a handful of broadcast locations across the U.S. that have plans to remain 100% on the UHF band, most areas will have both VHF and UHF digital stations. This means if you purchase a UHF TV antenna now, chances are you may loose the ability to receive a portion of your digital channels in the future. Some areas already have VHF digital stations.

    My best advice is to purchase a TV antenna that is large enough to be certain it can easily receive all of the digital broadcast signals in your area, even during poor reception conditions. The antenna should be VHF/UHF capable, unless you are absolutely certain all of your stations are currently UHF, and will remain UHF after the digital transition is complete. To determine the channel number your area digital stations currently broadcast on now, and the channel number they plan to broadcast on after the 2009 analog shutdown date, visit http://hraunfoss.fccgov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-06-1082A2.pdf. When you visit this site, start by finding your state and then the city where your area stations are located. The channel number that appears in the first column is the current digital channel number of that station, the second column is the current analog channel number, and the third column is the tentative final channel number destination. The third column is the channel number where the station plans to permanently broadcast their digital signal. VHF channels are 2 – 13 and UHF are 14 – 69. If your not sure where or what stations are available in your area, visit http://www.antennaweb.org. This is a great site to visit, it will provide the city location of the stations in your area and much more.

  2. Bjers says:

    Hi Denny
    Great Information and thank you for sharing this on DTV Brief. I will put you up on the blogroll!
    Keep me posted about upcoming news and DTV events and I will share it here on DTV Brief.
    /Anders

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